Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 19, 2008 Contemplation

Since lately I've had very little time to devote to writing, I've decided to start a regular feature wherein I'll post a scriptural reference to contemplate.

Instructions: Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Breathe in for a count of 3, and out for a count of 4. Open your eyes and read the contemplation below. Read it several times if you wish. Then, click on the link to begin a 2-minute session in which you can contemplate the saying I have posted. The timer will begin automatically, and an audible sound will mark the end of the session (so wear headphones if you're at work!).

Close your eyes, and contemplate the saying along the following lines, "How can I apply this to my life?" "Have I seen evidence to support this author's statement? Where?" "If what I've seen contradicts this author's statement, could s/he have meant something else?"


Master Linji: If you still love the holy and hate the profane, then you will continue to drift and sink in the ocean of birth and death.

Begin 2-minute meditation now


Frank said...

Alright, I will be the first to log my thoughts after contemplation.
I have to say this is a statement I disagree with.
I could be wrong, but understanding, I believe, does not come with being right nor wrong.
After much thought for more than two minutes I have to say that this statement comes down to an understanding. It is a narrow-mindedness that keeps one locked into their own world of belief. Without a want of knowledge for more than what is known than that one person will be destined to live a mundane life which merely consists of a birth and death and whatever mundane events happen in-between.
I do not believe that you must love what is not known or not understood, but you must accept it and try to understand it. Even the holiest man can accept a profane mindset but that does not make his life any more better with that knowledge, or love as Linji said.
I could be way off base with what I believe that statement to mean, but that is what I took from it. Hope I didn't waste space on your page.

Mike said...

Hi Frank,

As in all things Buddhist, Linji was speaking to a particular audience at a particular time, and hence his talk was geared toward their particular situation -- in other words, he was using skillful means to point his particular audience toward what they needed in their particular lives. There is a classic Buddhist analogy: a Buddhist teaching is like a finger pointing toward the moon. To take the teaching as the moon itself is incorrect. The teaching simply points to the truth; it can never completely convey the truth.

Anyway, back to your comment. What is the tagline of my blog? It is, “This world -- just as it is with all its horror, all its darkness, all its brutality -- is the golden lotus world of perfection.” This speaks to the exact same thing as Linji. You noted in your comment,

I do not believe that you must love what is not known or not understood, but you must accept it and try to understand it.

What keeps us chained is our attachment. We don’t just enjoy good things; we chase after them, and mourn over their loss. We don’t just experience difficult things and accept them as they are; we strive to avoid all pain and mentally anguish over our situation when it is difficult. In short, both joyful and painful situations cause us to suffer.

What Linji is saying is that when joyful things (“the holy”) arise in our lives, we should enjoy them, experience them fully, and then let them go when they are over. When painful things (“the profane”) arise in our lives, we should accept them, experience them fully, and let them go when they are over. In neither case do you mourn or celebrate the ending of the event. You accept it -- the golden lotus world of perfection -- and then experience the next moment, as it is.

In the quote of your comment above, you also said, “and try to understand it.” In Buddhism, one step of the Eightfold Path is Right Mindfulness. This training says that when you experience something, you train your wisdom eye on it and identify it: “Anger. Jealousy. Joy. Happiness. Sadness.” In identifying it, you come to know it. Believe me, this is harder than it looks. When you’re in the heat of the moment, to be able to take pause, look at your mind, and label its current primary focus, takes much practice. For me, personally, anger is a big one. Not big anger, mind you. I rarely get very angry. In that way, I notice that I have been somewhat successful at recognizing the golden lotus world of perfection. However, little anger arises more than I know. I was walking off the train this morning, in no particular rush, and the person outside the doors waiting to get in was standing on the right side (the direction of the stairs). When I stepped off the train, the person did not step forward toward the train to make a nice path to walk behind her as we all disembarked. Instead, she stood directly in the walkway. I frowned briefly, then stepped around her and continued walking. In that moment, true Mindfulness is identifying the little anger that arose, labeling it “Anger, anger.” And then noticing my bodily and mental response to the anger (my frown, how long the anger lingers after the event, any tightness in any muscles, do they taper off after the event or disappear en masse, etc.). In that way, you come to know your anger. In time, you come to know it completely, and that understanding allows you to remove its seed from your consciousness, helping you to no longer create the karma associated with angry responses.

Thanks for the comment!